HOLYOKE -- The Holyoke Gas and Electric Department has awarded a contract for a Whiting Farms Road property to Gary Rome Hyundai with an expectation an agreement will be signed soon, despite neighbors' opposition to certain kinds of development at the site, officials said.
Bids for the 19-acre property were publicly opened by Holyoke Gas and Electric Commission (HGE) in May. The commission awarded the contract to Gary Rome, which submitted a bid for $2,050,000, at a public meeting on June 4, officials said.
Gary Rome Hyundai has a dealership at 1000 Main St. in the city. Gary Rome Auto Group also has a Kia dealership in Enfield.
Marcotte Ford also submitted a $1.71 million bid for the property. Michael Filomeno, general manager at the Holyoke dealership, said the location would offer the company a chance to grow. "We can't expand here. The business is changing. The vehicles are changing, getting bigger. We have to keep up."
Gary Rome and HGE are negotiating a purchase and sale agreement, HGE Manager James M. Lavelle said.
"I expect that the agreement will be signed soon, and that it will be contingent upon the buyer obtaining certain approvals, including any necessary zone changes," Lavelle said in an email.
The deal will not go through unless the auto group obtains a zone change, from a general business to a highway business designation.
The property has a contentious history with attempts by businesses to move in. When Lowe's Home Improvement sought to purchase the property, neighborhood group Holyoke First protested until the corporation withdrew its bid. The same fate awaited Walmart when the company intended to open a location on the Whiting Farm Road site.
Earlier this year, the city asked residents what type of space they want for the 19-acre property.
The Republican's Mike Plaisance reported on the 361 responses the city received in July.
Nothing would be fine.
Essentially, that's the highest intensity of interest expressed in a survey the city did of what kind of use residents and others want for 19 acres on Whiting Farms Road previously considered controversially by Walmart and Lowe's improvement.
Open space-recreation scored the highest intensity of responses in the survey followed by mixed-retail use, retail plaza, office space,auto dealer, a tie between industrial and single-unit residential and multi-unit residential, according to the results discussed at Tuesday's (July 22) meeting of the City Council Ordinance Committee at City Hall.